Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is one of the most popular Chief Ministers of India having hardly any challenge to her rule as opposition of Left parties, Congress and the BJP are far below in the popularity graph. In the last general elections in 2016, she won 211 seats out of 293 seats that went to polls. In the civic polls last month, her party Trimool Congress maintained and won more than two-third civic bodies. The emerging BJP was far behind with second position. It is a matter of great anguish for Left parties that ruled the state for three decades. The BJP is making every effort and picking communal issues for gaining ground.
Mamata Banerjee is perhaps one of the most experienced politicians in the country. She is a graduate of History and Law besides having a degree in education. After the college union activities, she began her political career with the Congress Party and held many important state posts. She became one of India’s youngest parliamentarians when she defeated the veteran communist leader Somnath Chatterjee. She joined Union cabinet when P V Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, but she protested against the government when her proposal to promote the sports was rejected. The rebel in her had always been alive and at last forced her to leave the Congress to found her own party Trinamool Congress. She joined the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee and was given railways portfolio. She again became the railways minister under the UPA government also. As a railways minister she introduced many new trains and brought many administrative reforms.
She resigned the NDA in 2001 when Tehelka.com exposed the corruption in defence dealings, but rejoined the government in January 2004 and held the coal and mines portfolio. In 2004, she was the only Trinamool Congress member to win a Parliamentary seat from West Bengal. In 2005, she protested the forceful land acquisition and atrocities against the farmers. She also protested when the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government gave a farmland to an Indonesian company which promised huge investment in West Bengal. In 2006, Banerjee was stopped on her way to Singur where she was going to participate in a rally against Tata Motor car project. Instead she protested at the West Bengal assembly. Her party MLAs went on rampage in the assembly. A major strike call was also given against this project. Here also the government acquired framers land for Tata Motors. Then came the Nandigram firing in which 14 protesting farmers were killed and more than 70 were injured. The West Bengal government under Special Economic Zone allotted 10,000 acres of land to an Indonesian based company. Mamata Banerjee was in the forefront to support the cause of farmers. This was a turning point for her to gain popularity in the state as a champion of the farmers. The grass root support of the Left parties government was on the decline.
As an alliance partner of the UPA government, she wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop what she called a state sponsored violence promoted by the CPM. In the wake of this incident, the assembly elections to the West Bengal assembly were held in 2011. The Trinamool Congress dethroned the 34-year-rule of the Left parties in the state. The Trinamool Congress won 184 seats and its alliance partner Congress won 42 seats. She was sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of the state. She brought many reforms in education, health sector and police establishment. The total area of Kolkata Municipal Corporation was brought under the control of Kolkata Police. It was to her credit that in 2012, Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sent a letter to the West Bengal government praising Banerjee and her administration for achieving a full year without any reported case of polio. The letter said this was not only a milestone for India but for the whole world. In 2016, she started her second term for which her party fought elections without alliance.
She is supporting the opposition parties which are trying to form an alliance against the BJP. She participated in the grand rally organized by Lalu Prasad Yadav. She is diametrically opposed to the Hindutva policies of the BJP and Prime Minister usually becomes her target.